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We would like to thank all those who have given support to this project from the local community, Warwickshire Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Freshwater Habitats Trust, Alvecote and Shuttington Parish Council, Maurice Arnold (sadly now passed away), and all the contractors and friends, family and volunteers who have worked on the site and given us advice and support.

We are developing Alvecote Wood according to our Woodland Management Plan that has been agreed with and grant-aided by the Forestry Commission under the English Woodland Grant Scheme.

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Wildlife Observations at Alvecote Wood

Rose hips in the autumn at Alvecote Wood

This section records observations made on a particular day or week at Alvecote Wood. Started in April 2009, this will build up over the weeks and years to provide a record of species and events seen on the site. We also have historical bird, plant and animal observations available.

February 2011

Spring is really progressing now - we are pleased to report a lot of birds in full song at the end of the month. Flocks of fieldfare are still with us. Green and great spotted woodpeckers are active in the woods. The buzzard pair are trying to ditch last year's chick, without much success at the moment. We have evidence of tawny owls on the border between Alvecote Wood and Betty's Wood. We have also seen woodcock in Betty's Wood. Yellowhammer and curlew were also heard in farmland adjacent to the wood, and the first skylark was also heard at the end of the month.

January 2011

The results of our nest box survey are now complete. We have 31 nest boxes on site - 6 open-fronted and the remainder with varying sized holes to appeal to different species. The open-fronted nest boxes have not been used, so we need to re-site these to appeal to robins and flycatchers. However of the remaining boxes with hole fronts, 76% have been used by either great tits or blue tits. This is particularly good news because 12 of these boxes were placed quite late in 2010, and we were not expecting such high usage rates. Results for 2010 and 2011 here (pdf)

Other good news to report - a pair of jack snipe seen in the woods near our lower ponds!

September 2009

A busy month for work in the woods, so not much time to stand and stare. Nevertheless the squirrels have been noticeably busy burying their acorns and nuts for the winter. There has also been some bird of prey activity as the level of cover afforded by the summer grass gradually reduces. The buzzards have been coming right into the woods, and there is a pair of sparrowhawks regularly hunting at the wood. There is a kestrel that hunts in the adjacent field, but doesn't come right into the woods - if it does, the buzzard seems to scare it off. The pheasants are becoming more visible as the undergrowth fades.

An excellent find was the first ever sighting of a grey wagtail at the woods, feeding on the mud as the water level gets lower in our new upper ponds. This is exciting because we have created the habitat that has attracted it to the wood, so it is a sign that what we are doing is good for wildlife.

There are many fruits and berries coming into season. The hawthorns are covered in berries, and there are sloes, hazelnuts, holly berries and a lot of elderberry, some of which has been converted to wine already! We were also delighted to find two service trees in the hedge between us and the adjacent farm (albeit on the farmer's side of the boundary). The pheasants are more noticeable after their summer break. The muntjac are causing a little more damage to the pond plants now the water level has fallen.

25th August to 1st September

We managed to do a lot of work this week, which meant wildlife observations took second place. We have established a timetable for our badger, but unfortunately our wildlife camera had to be pressed into use as a security camera after a fly-tipping incident blocked our entrance. The buzzards have been very active this week, and we have also seen a lot of house-martins. There is a bumper crop of acorns this year, and we hope to plant some of these. Water mint is flowering by our ponds, as well as purple loosestrife.

18th to 24th August 2009

A busy week for us, preparing for our Open Day. The swifts now seem to have gone too, and the house martins have become very prominent during the daytime, swooping low over the woods after insects. An azure hawker dragonfly has appeared at our upper ponds, as well as common darters. We have also seen common blue

badger at Alvecote Wood

butterflies, although there are none of their foodplants growing at the wood - we assume they have blown in from elsewhere. A pair of sparrowhawks appeared on the Open Day, and chased each other across the clearing, which was a spectacular sight indeed. The biggest excitement of all came when we managed to capture a badger using our remote camera. We see signs of badgers all over the place - droppings, footprints, but despite trying to be intelligent about where we put the camera, it seemed to be remarkably camera-shy. Well, now it has come into the light! We found a scent-marking site, and after a couple of failed attempts, we captured it on film this week - a night-time infra-red shot. We now want to work out its general timetable so we can get some direct observations and pictures - fingers crossed!

10th to 17th August 2009

The willow warblers and chiffchaffs seem to have disappeared. Their song was not heard at the wood this week. Swifts are still with us. House martins were also seen this week, not sure where they are living. No swallows though - maybe they are departing too. Everything is quietening down, a last breath of summer before the autumn starts. We have started bramble clearance to give new saplings a chance to develop, making new paths and small glades. One of these revealed a common toad, making his way back to the new bramble border. The blackberry crop is really getting going and some of the elderberries are ripening too. Our small allotment has provided lots of potatoes and onions and we are taking a chance on some late season salad which will probably end up as rabbit food!

1st to 9th August 2009

Lots of wildlife-related things happening this week. The buzzard has been regularly spotted and heard, this time with two others - presumably its family. It was also spotted coming right down into the wood, attempting to take a pheasant - apparently to the surprise of both birds.The great spotted woodpeckers have been seen and heard haggling over their territories. Butterfly activity has also increased - we've seen second-generation brimstones, large and small skippers, gatekeepers, painted ladies, and clouds of large whites. Another purple hairstreak has been spotted in an oak tree. Common darter dragonflies have been spotted laying eggs in the ponds. A sparrowhawk was also seen flying over. Angelica is coming into flower all over the woods now.

20th to 31st July 2009

Not so much wildlife observation over this period as we have been getting ready for our Open Day. Green woodpeckers very active disputing territories. A lot of muntjac activity seen in footprints at the wood, and I managed to photograph a muntjac buck (first one seen at this site). The first blackberries are ripening and even ready to eat. Just a few small skippers have been seen at the site but the weather has suppressed butterfly activity. Wild raspberries are ripening and very tasty they are too! The buzzard is very active as the harvesting is starting in adjacent fields. The first peacock butterfly has been seen on site.

12th July to 19th July 2009

broad-backed chaser dragonfly

First Gatekeeper butterflies have been seen at Alvecote Wood. I spotted them further down the road near the canal earlier in the week, but they took at least 5 days longer to emerge at the wood for some reason. There are a huge number of large white butterflies this year - many more than last year. The rain has filled the ponds to and above their draw-down zone, so most of the marginal plants have their feet wet again. A lot of muntjac activity, and a mother and kid were photographed near the south-western corner (shown above). Green woodpeckers were spotted having a disagreement over territory! The first blackberries are just starting to turn red-black - time to prepare for crumble, wine and jam-making!

30th June - 11th July 2009

Again, lots of wildlife activity despite a rainy spell. Red admiral butterflies have emerged, as well as comma butterflies. There are also a lot of large white butterflies around. We haven't seen small skippers or gatekeeper butterflies as yet. Painted ladies also seen. One purple hairstreak was seen this week, but we couldn't get a photograph. Our buzzard came right into the woods, causing a commotion among the smaller animals and birds. Muntjac are active at all the ponds, and have eaten one of our flag iris plants, but don't seem to have done any other damage at present. We have seen seven-spot ladybirds, but as yet none of the "invading" harlequin ladybirds. Several species of bumblebee are present as well as our wild honeybees, particularly favouring bramble flowers. We seem to be in for a bumper blackberry crop this year!

14th-28th June 2009

The butterflies are beginning to emerge in numbers. We have new meadow brown butterflies and ringlet butterflies as well as large skippers. Overnight wildlife monitoring has shown a lot of activity by muntjac deer. Emerald damselflies and other dragonfly species are beginning to visit the ponds.

I was fortunate to witness a large group of tits including blue tits, great tits, long-tailed tits, coal tits and willow tits, together with a female blackcap bathing in the lower ponds - there were over 30 of them altogether. Also a large flock of 30 or more long-tailed tits visited us on Saturday 27th June. The buzzards were back again, and a barn-owl was seen in the woods while we were camping overnight. Juvenile nuthatches have also been seen.

8-13th June 2009

A visit from Warwickshire Wildlife Trust revealed some interesting findings including bog stitchwort and greater duckweed thriving on our lowest pond. There are a lot of fledgelings to be seen and heard including long-tailed tits, blue tits, nuthatches and great tits. The seed feeders have been found and are in use by the great tits in particular, but also by squirrels, so we'll have to keep an eye on this. Foxgloves are in flower throughout the wood, dog rose is flowering, woody nightshade (bittersweet) is in flower by the ditch and lower ponds, and the first bramble flowers are coming out in sunny areas. Wrens were seen feeding young. We managed to get some night-time photographs of muntjac deer for the first time. Four-spotted chasers (dragonflies) were seen as well as broad-bodied chasers on the upper ponds.

2nd June 2009

Camping overnight we watched a number of pipistrelle bats coming down really close to us and feeding on insects attracted to the upper ponds at dusk. We also saw one larger bat, either noctule or long-eared. We also heard a tawny-owl. We placed two seed feeders in areas known to be frequented by blue tits and other small birds - we'll have to see how they are received, but after only one day, a great tit was observed on one of them, so they may prove popular.

29th-31st May 2009

broad-backed chaser dragonfly

The ponds are alive with dragonflies and damselflies, even though there are relatively few plants there. The broad-bodied chasers (male shown right) were laying eggs, as were both large red and common blue damselflies. We completed a bird survey. We know that at least three nest boxes are occupied by blue tits but also one family at least has fledged already - parents seen feeding the young in the trees. We were delighted to find two bees' nests in tree holes too. Hogweed is in flower (this isn't giant hogweed, it is the native sort), as well as forget-me-not. Foxgloves just coming into flower.

17-22nd May 2009

The swallows and swifts have arrived - swallows on 17th and swifts by 22nd. A lot of woodpecker activity in the woods. At least two next boxes are occupied by blue tits. Long-tailed tits are still around. There is a pied wagtail frequenting our internal road virtually every time we visit now. Speckled wood and small white butterflies are around. The blue speedwell is just starting to flower, as well as creeping buttercup and purple tufted vetch.

12th May 2009

This last week we have confirmed that there are at least two breeding pairs of great-spotted woodpecker at Alvecote Wood. There is also at least one nest box in use by blue-tits. Also heard or seen at the wood include nuthatches, great tits, robins, song-thrushes, wrens, dunnocks, blackbirds, pheasant, chiffchaff, willow warbler and blackcap. The heron has been in regular attendance. Elderflower is just starting to open and the hawthorn is covered with blossom.

4th May 2009

Two mallard were seen on the lowest pond (Pond 6) and also for the first time ever, a heron was seen at the edge of this pond. Bluebells form a profuse carpet. Woodpeckers were heard, as were great tits, blue tits, song thrush, chiffchaff, pheasant and blackcap. A buzzard was seen overhead. Cow parsley is coming into flower.

26th April 2009

Two cuckoos were heard in the woods. This is the first time we have heard them, although they have been recorded on the site in the past.

18th-25th April 2009

A lot of activity this week at the woods. Plants coming into flower include a large number of the planted tulips along the internal road, greater stitchwort, bugle and bluebells which are coming into flower in great numbers. Butterflies seen this week include speckled wood, small white, orange-tip and brimstone. Birds heard include the chiffchaff and willow warbler. Insect activity is increasing and there are lots of bumblebees.